22 June 2022

Grand plans as Wagga Women's Shed celebrates five years

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga Women's Shed

The women of Wagga Women’s Shed. (Front left to right) Moya Dunn, Ros Levett, Laura Milne, and Diane Shute. (Back left to right) Lynn Rattenbury and Liz Owen. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Ros Levett’s aim for the Wagga Women’s Shed is to make it a safe space for all women regardless of their age, disability, and ethnic background.

The jack of all trades, master of none, hopes to share what she has learned throughout her life in a safe space for all women.

The Women’s Shed will be celebrating its fifth anniversary with the opening of its new garden and a market day on 2 July.

The garden is named Caring and Sharing Balimaya (Wiradjuri for coming together).

“The garden idea is to grow produce and for women to help themselves,” the Women’s Shed president said. “They can give a donation, but it is okay if they don’t.

“The garden is for the benefit of the women.”

Ms Levett said it was “wonderful” that the group was nearing its fifth year.

“It’s had a few struggles along the way, and COVID interrupted us, but we are back on track to celebrate five years,” she said.

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“We didn’t think we’d get this far in five years.”

Ms Levett said the Shed had grown “tremendously” from its inception.

“We haven’t grown in number, but we have grown in developing friendships, developing relationships within the community,” she said.

“We have grown in what we can offer women and we have invited them to be part of the decision-making. The committee is not solely the decision-makers.”

Ms Levett said the Shed had received a warm reception from the community but had faced difficulties in getting the word out about itself.

The Women’s Shed cannot accept women with young children due to occupational health and safety restrictions.

“They are welcome to visit, but it is not viable as it is a safety issue to have children,” Ms Levett said.

Many women who have joined the Shed have either been widowed, separated, retrenched, retired or are new to town.

Hand-sewn bags

Bags created by the women of the shed. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

“They form friendships and we might only see them for three months but we’ve helped them along their journey to getting out and mixing in the community.

“And that’s all right too because it makes us feel good.”

The Shed has 90 active members and a good working relationship with local community services.

Anyone can drop in, call or email the Shed if they want to be involved.

The Women’s Shed hosts mediation, yoga, Tai Chi, woodwork, book club, and craft activities, including mosaics, artwork, paint pouring, and needlework.

The Shed also has a small involvement with NDIS through the carers that help with those who may have had a stroke, have an intellectual disability, or have other mental health issues.

The group raised funds for Cancer Council with a morning tea and it also hosts a guest speaker once a month with a community member.

The group also does activities outside the Shed. They have taken trips to Barmedman and formed a movie group.

The president has grand plans and visions for the future of the Shed – starting with building a bigger shed.

“I don’t want it closed in separate rooms but have it open with various compartments for all our activities,” she enthused.

“Get a small bus to take the women around and maybe get a ute or a trailer.

“I want to expand and invite women from other sheds and vice versa.”

Ms Levett’s five-year plans include expanding the garden with a small orchard and adding a fire pit and a yarning circle.

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When asked what the Shed means for the women of Wagga, the women collectively said companionship, forming new friendships, trying something new, and learning new skills.

Liz Owen said she used to do knitting and crocheting for many years but, as a working mother, had forgotten how to do so.

“Some older ladies have shown me how to take up trousers, remake and alter things,” she said.

“It is good because the younger people that come in here can pick up the older trades that are just going out the window.”

The youngest member, Laura Milne, said she had formed many new friendships with the Shed.

“I was a bit shy, and the Shed has helped me come out of my shell a lot more.

“I’ve learned new skills and give back to the community by helping people,” she said.

The Wagga Women’s Shed was founded by Kerrie Luff, Rebecca Hutton, and Rebecca Curry.

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